VSO Roundtable


VSO Roundtable with Senator Kyrsten Sinema

Advocating for Arizona’s Veteran Community

Recently, I had the privilege of attending a roundtable hosted by Arizona’s senior Senator, Kyrsten Sinema. The event focused on supporting Arizona’s veteran community and addressing critical issues concerning their well-being and access to services.

The purpose of the roundtable was to provide a forum for Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) representatives from across the state to share and voice the concerns and needs of the veteran community in Arizona and to identify ways to better support them. Senator Sinema also shared important information on legislative work designed to deliver lasting solutions ensuring veterans receive the quality, affordable care they’ve earned.

I was honored to attend this roundtable event on behalf of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families (ACMF) to represent the 500+ partner organizations that are members of the ACMF. The roundtable brought together several Arizona VSOs and members of Senator Sinema’s Veterans Advisory Council. Among the key priorities discussed were:

  • Enhanced health care benefits for veterans and their families through the PACT Act
  • Addressing challenges related to veteran homelessness
  • Ensuring timely healthcare access
  • Expanding economic opportunities for veterans

The ACMF participated in these discussions alongside other esteemed organizations like the Military Order of the Purple Heart, American Legion, VFW, and many more. This collaborative effort demonstrates the collective dedication to improving the lives of Arizona’s veterans.

The roundtable event not only provided a forum for our Senator to have her thumb on the pulse of the needs of our veterans and their families, but it also provided an opportunity to show how united we are as a state on this issue. In Arizona, there is no need for competition among VSOs. There is room at the proverbial table for every VSO to deliver services and support to veterans in every community across the state.

Because the support for Arizona veterans can take the shape of healthcare, benefits, finances, transportation, social connection, and much more, and because Arizona has such a unique and vast landscape posing geographic, economic, and weather-related challenges – there is absolutely a need for VSOs to be coordinated, cooperative and collaborative.

There were a few key takeaways from the roundtable that I would like to share.

  • We are fortunate in Arizona to have two Senators who deeply care about veterans and are tireless advocates for their health and well-being. Their work at the national level to secure resources and benefits for all veterans is inspired and guided by their personal experience. Senator Mark Kelly’s background as a retired Navy captain and astronaut gives him a unique first-hand perspective on the sacrifices and challenges veterans face. Senator Sinema’s passion and dedication towards improving veterans’ lives is also deeply personal, stemming from her status as a military family member with an older brother who is a retired Marine and her younger brother’s service in the U.S. Navy. These connections to military service in their lives help us all to be seen, and our needs recognized.
  • The forum was a direct connection for ACMF to inform and influence conversations at the national level. Senator Sinema, who is a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, is dedicated to listening and working with VSOs and the Veterans Advisory Council to align national policy efforts to the needs of Arizona’s veteran community.
  • Advocating on behalf of veterans to ensure they have access to the care and benefits they’ve rightfully earned transcends any political affiliation. Taking care of America’s veterans is a shared mission that Arizona is united around. The collective efforts of the participating VSOs at the roundtable were proof positive that underscored the importance of collaboration and unity in advocating for those who have served our nation.

As the Director of the Arizona Coalition for Military Families, I left the roundtable with a sense of optimism and determination. As the legislative and policy work at the federal level moves through its course, we will continue to carry on the mission here on Arizona’s home front.

We will continue to:

  • Offer no-cost resource navigation and connection services to all Arizona service members, veterans, their families, and caregivers through the Be Connected support line, 866-4AZ-VETS.
  • Raise awareness and be an advocate for resources that support the well-being of Arizona’s service members, veterans, and their families.
  • Cultivate partnerships that bring valuable partners into the ACMF to expand and differentiate the availability of resources and support available through Be Connected.
  • Reduce the risk of suicide among Arizona service members and veterans through a proactive, or upstream approach by offering services, programs, and resources that align with the social determinants of health.
  • Offer ways for Arizonans to get involved in our mission through events, training sessions, and volunteerism.

Many thanks to Senator Kyrsten Sinema for hosting this event and for her tireless work to support veterans and stay abreast of the needs, challenges, and successes in Arizona.

Thomas Winkel
Director, Arizona Coalition for Military Families

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Special thanks to the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family for their partnership and support.

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